Queen's colt now Derby favourite after regal display
Friday 13 May 2011
Anyone baffled, or worse, by the somewhat unreconstructed public response to a recent nuptial ceremony at Westminster Abbey would be well advised to avoid Epsom on 4 June. For the success here yesterday of Carlton House appears to give the monarch her best chance yet of winning the greatest race staged in her kingdom – and you may rest assured that the sport will be milking the moment.
Mind you, only the most ingenuous patriot will be backing Carlton House for the Investec Derby at odds now as short as 6-4. Yes, the Totesport Dante Stakes looked the strongest of the trials, and had in recent years produced Workforce, Authorized and Motivator. But if the courts of law were to stage their own trials in such perfunctory fashion, then perhaps their findings would tend to favour the Crown no less reliably.
For this race was run at a pathetic gallop, and the way Carlton House cut down Seville – going a length and a half clear inside the last furlong – is by no means a conclusive measure of their relative prospects at Epsom.
One of the central protagonists put it well. "It was a horrible race," he said. "It's a shame, really, because nobody learned a great deal. It was a messy, stupid race." And that was Ryan Moore, who rode the winner.
In fairness, Carlton House retains as much right as Seville to prove better still, granted a more searching gallop over the longer distance at Epsom. His principal scope for progress, however, rests in his prior lack of experience. Runaway winner of a Newbury maiden on his second start last autumn, he proved green at the stalls yesterday and was then reluctant to settle as the outsider, Pisco Sour, led them hesitantly through the gale.
It was a similar story, just alongside, for the other big Newmarket fancy. In the case of World Domination, however, there would be a price to pay when the pace finally picked up. He was spent, and so compounded the disappointment of Arizona Jewel for the same connections the previous afternoon.
Moore, in contrast, was able to send his mount in comfortable pursuit of Pisco Sour and Seville on to the stands rail – a regular manoeuvre in easy conditions at this meeting – and then angle between them. His clear priority, in doing so, was education. And Sir Michael Stoute, his trainer, expects Carlton House to profit from the whole experience.
"He will have learned a bit, and went through quite a tight opening," Stoute said. "He has a good mind. I think he was just taking the mickey at the stalls. He stood really chilled, and when he went to load he just thought he'd have a bit of a game. That probably revved him up a bit in the early stages."
John Warren, the royal racing manager, had talked the Queen through the race and related that she had given "a yelp" when Moore went for that gap. "I loved the way he went through," Warren said. "It shows he'd have no trouble with a course like Epsom, where you might get trouble."
Last year, with Workforce, Stoute and Moore persevered from a pardonable defeat to win at Epsom. We could yet see something similar from Seville, who was given a drowsy ride by Christophe Soumillon. This colt will never do anything in a hurry, but his jockey still had his posterior stuck in the air as they cruised past the two pole, with all bar the winner in trouble. Aidan O'Brien, his trainer, indicated that Seville would proceed to Epsom for the rematch, for which he looks sound each-way value at 7-1.
If World Domination is out of the Epsom equation, at least connections will be at the meeting with Midday, who coped with a penalty on her reappearance earlier in the card and now tackles the Investec Coronation Cup.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Blue Bajan (2.30 York) Worth taking the hint of rejuvenation at Chester last week.
Our Jonathan (4.10 York) Doncaster comeback suggests he is now very well treated.
One to watch
Hadrians Rule (Tim Easterby) Did well to close into midfield on his debut at York yesterday.
Where the money's going
Blue Bunting is 9-4 from 5-2 with Paddy Power for the Investec Oaks.
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